Do more with less and perplexity

March 2, 2009
By: Tim Heston

Recently I heard an apt story for our times, one that delved into the history behind that perennial, and often abhorred, business buzz phrase, "Do more with less."

According to the NPR story, the 19th century French economist Frédéric Bastiat opined, Man is so constituted that his constant concern is to lessen the ratio of effort to result; to substitute the action of nature for his own action; in a word, to do more with less.

Going back further, Benjamin Franklin used the phrase, By diligence shall we do more with less perplexity.

These two sentences don"t say anything about working harder with fewer resources. Instead, they say we should accomplish more with less effort (less the ratio of effort to result), more focus, and less waste (do more with less perplexity).

I believe those comments spell out basic tenets of modern manufacturing. Franklin, it seems, had the basic concept of lean manufacturing more than a century before mass production. Bastiat saw the importance of technological innovation (substitute the action of nature for his own action), allowing us to do more work with less effort.

I"m sure Richard P. Martukanitz, Ph.D., would agree with Bastiat. Martukanitz heads the Penn State Applied Research Laboratory's Laser Processing Division. His research has worked with myriad lasers over the years, and he"s recently delved into single-mode fiber laser technology, which delivers such high beam quality, with extremely high power density, that it actually cuts and welds more metal with less powermuch less power, in fact.

For instance, just hypothetically, to cut 3-mm-thick material may have required 5 kW using a CO2 laser, he said. Today we can cut the same thickness with 1 kW. And you"re paying for kilowatts, so this advance significantly decreases the cost of equipment. You can now weld 4- to 5-mm steel with a laser that"s no bigger than a microwave. That"s incredible.

Talk about doing more with lessa drive that, at least at some of the best shops I"ve seen, hasn"t stopped with the downturn.

Tim Heston

Tim Heston

Senior Editor
FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-381-1314